Last week’s snowfall decreased retail footfall in the north of England by 20.4 per cent compared with the same week last year, according to new research.
Research company Synovate’s latest Retail Traffic Index show that the story was almost as bad in Scotland where footfall fell 19.3 per cent year-on-year and 2.5 per cent week-on-week.
At the height of the bad weather shopper numbers were down by 22.3 per cent compared to 2009 and for the whole week traffic was down 1.5 per cent against the previous week.
Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Synovate Retail Performance, commented: “We had anticipated 2010 being a ‘slow burn’ Christmas, but we certainly didn’t envisage double digit drops in shopper numbers against last year, in the first week of December.
“Most alarming of all, is that footfall last week was actually lower than the previous week’s.
“If we compare the week’s 1.5 per cent drop in traffic against the previous week (w/c 21st November) against the corresponding ten-year average of +7.9 per cent, we can begin to understand how damaging the wintery weather has been for retailers over the course of this last week.”
Across the UK non-stores tended to be the worst affected retail sector during the first week of December, with footfall shrinking 14.5 per cent year-on-year.
Denison believes that it will be impossible for retail to recover the lost revenues during the rest of the month but argues that wintery weather is not always bad news for the industry at this time of year.
“The snow will alert people to the fact that Christmas Day is under three weeks away and will help kick start people’s Christmas planning and gift buying,” he added.
“In parts of the country where shoppers are less affected by the wintry conditions, we should therefore see numbers strengthen considerably this week. Elsewhere the outlook for this week remains bleaker.”